PhD candidate (100 %) Marker Assisted Selection in lupin breeding

PhD candidate (100 %) Marker Assisted Selection in lupin breeding

WorkAd Team
Ref. no.: 60c8079dab, published: 05.01.2022
Frick, Szwajcaria
Nature and Environment
Permanent job

The overall goal of the PhD project is to develop and apply molecular breeding tools to white lupin (Lupinus albus L.)  breeding for identifying cultivars with (i) increased tolerance against the seed-borne pathogen Colleto-trichum lupini, the causal agent of anthracnose, and (ii) with low-alkaloid content (alkaloids <0.02%, threshold for food production).

White lupin is the most valuable protein crop after soybean for animal feed and human nutrition due to the high protein content and good amino acid profile. However, the anthracnose disease poses a major challenge in lupin cultivation in Switzerland causing substantial yield loss. Additionally, almost all sweet lupin cultivars are derived from the same mutation, which, depending on genetic background and environmental conditions, often results in alkaloid levels above the recommended threshold.

Thus, the main objectives of the PhD project are:

    • Validation of published markers linked to qualitative and quantitative traits in white lupin
    • Marker development, application and field validation for anthracnose tolerance and low-alkaloid content on candidate varieties and breeding lines (e.g. Fluidigm chips and/or KASP markers from QTL already determined at FiBL by GWAS and/or by the collaboration partners Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA, Italy) and Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture (LfL, Germany) in order to develop strategies for marker-assisted selection (MAS)
    • Development, calibration and application in selection of rapid quantification methods for alkaloid content (e.g. NIRS, photometry) to increase the phenotyping capacity limited by the high-cost of wet-lab alkaloid quantification and to foster selection in FiBL breeding program
    • Definition of breeding strategies to combine low-alkaloid (pyramidization of different mutants and modifier genes) and anthracnose tolerance in breeding material
    • MAS application in the organic white lupin breeding program at FiBL and development of strategies for cost-efficient molecular selection tools in small-sized breeding programs

The PhD candidate will be employed by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL as member of the Plant Breeding group, coordinated by Dr. Monika Messmer. The workplace will be FiBL premises in Frick (Switzerland). The PhD candidate will be enrolled as "extramural" (external) doctorate candidate in the Horticulture and Agriculture doctoral program of the Institute of Plant Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poznań, Poland) under the supervision of Prof. Michał Książkiewicz (, head of the Gene Structure and Function Team). Dr. Magdalena Kroc (, Legume Genomics team) will provide scientific advice on the alkaloid related research aspects of the project. Visits and short stays at the Institute of Plant Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences, LfL and CREA should be accounted for.

The PhD thesis will be conducted in the frame of the national project "Breeding white lupin for resistance & quality for innovative Swiss food from sustainable, regional production (LUPINNO SUISSE)" and H2020 project "Co-constructing interactive short and mid-tier food chains to value agrobiodiversity in healthy plant-based food (DIVINFOOD)".

We expect

    • Master degree or comparable university degree in plant breeding, biotechnologies, agricultural sciences, biology or comparable field
    • Enthusiasm for combining molecular approaches and quantitative genetics with practical breeding activities
    • Strongly advantageous are competencies in molecular biology, laboratory work and good knowledge in statistics, especially in R
    • High self-motivation in applied research and the ability to work both independently and as a team player in a multi-disciplinary, international research environment
    • Interest in organic farming and sustainable agriculture
    • Proficiency in written and oral English.

We offer

    • The opportunity for a PhD in an innovative and applied research project, combining laboratory and field activities
    • Enrolment as PhD candidate at the Institute of Plant Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poznań, Poland), Institute with highly specialised research in lupin genetics
    • Involvement, via LUPINNO SUISSE and DIVINFOOD projects in research collaborations with other institutes focusing on white lupin breeding in Europe
    • Attractive working environment at FiBL (Frick, Switzerland) with flexible working conditions

Did we raise your interest? If you have any questions, please contact Mariateresa Lazzaro.

Please send your application documents (letter describing your background and motivation, CV including publication list, two referee contacts and copies of certificates) by  January 24th, 2022 to

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Kajetan Grobelny
Kajetan Grobelny